I learned the joys of putting potatoes in bread during my time in the Napa Valley, so the flavors here are resonant of that magical place, but don’t be afraid to change up the herbs or play with nuts and olives. You can’t mess it up. Well, you can— I certainly have more than once— but you know what I mean. You can do this by hand, but it’s messy, so I wrote this recipe with directions for using a stand mixer. — Duff
Makes 2 round loaves
2 large russet potatoes, well baked and still warm (instructions below)
1 garlic head, roasted and still warm (instructions below)
2 (¼-ounce) envelopes active dry yeast
2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
4 cups bread flour
1½ tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Peel and coarsely chop the potatoes (instructions below). Squeeze the garlic from the garlic head (instructions below) into a medium bowl and add the potatoes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the yeast, 2 cups warm water, and the sugar and let the yeast bloom for about 7 minutes, or until bubbly. Add the olive oil, potatoes, garlic, salt, and flours. Mix on medium speed for 15 minutes.
Turn the dough out into an oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm place for 1½ hours, or until doubled in size.
Punch it down and let it rise again for 1 hour. Punch it down again and cut the dough in half. Shape each loaf into a ball, place them on a baking sheet, and let them rise for 45 minutes, or until nice and poofy.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
Brush the loaves with olive oil and sprinkle them with a wee bit of salt and some rosemary. Cut a big slash across the top of each and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the loaves are a nice rich brown and sound hollow when tapped. Let cool on a wire rack. Never refrigerate!
Method - Baked Potatoes (preferably Russet Potatoes)
Rub the potatoes with a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. Stick ‘em with a fork like 20 times all over the place to let the steam out. Place them on a baking sheet and roast at 425ºF for 1 hour. The skin will get nice and crispy and you can scoop out the potato meat really easy, and also enjoy the skins as a snack while you bake.
I hate microwaves, but nuking potatoes is a very quick and effective way to cook potatoes. Punch’em with a fork like 20 times all over the place, place in a microwave-safe dish, uncovered, and cook them on full blast for 5 minutes. Turn them over and hit ‘em again for another 5 minutes. That should do it. If not, cook in 2-minute increments until a fork will slide easily all the way to the center of the spud.
This is best for potatoes with a thinner skin and and less starch than a big ol’ russet, such as Red Bliss, Yukon Gold, Rose Gold, Inca Gold, Adirondack, or Purple Peruvian. Skin the potatoes first, because harvesting the potato meat is difficult with a boiled potato. Fill a pot with cold water and whole peeled potatoes. Set the pot on a high flame and bring to a boil. Check them after 15 minutes and boil them longer if necessary— it’s much better to overcook than undercook, as you’re creating an ingredient, not a standalone dish.
Method - Roasted Garlic
You should know how to roast garlic— it may save your life one day. Heat the oven to 425ºF. Chop off the pointy end of the head of the garlic and expose the cloves. Drizzle olive oil right onto the exposed garlic, wrap it tightly with aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet, and roast for 35 to 40 minutes. Really, though, don’t time it— just roast them until they smell amazing. You’ll know when you smell it. You’ll also know very quickly if you over-roast it— it’ll smell awful and burnt. Throw it away and start over.